Makes good sense to revere the sun and stars because we are their children. The silicon in the rocks, the oxygen in the air, the carbon in our DNA, the iron in our skyscrapers, the silver in our jewelry were all made in stars billions of years ago. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are stardust.
This image shows galaxy NGC 4485 in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). The galaxy is irregular in shape, but it hasn’t always been so. Part of NGC 4485 has been dragged towards a second galaxy, named NGC 4490 — which lies out of frame to the bottom right of this image.
Between them, these two galaxies make up a galaxy pair called Arp 269. Their interactions have warped them both, turning them from spiral galaxies into irregular ones. NGC 4485 is the smaller galaxy in this pair, which provides a fantastic real-world example for astronomers to compare to their computer models of galactic collisions. The most intense interaction between these two galaxies is all but over; they have made their closest approach and are now separating. The trail of bright stars and knotty orange clumps that we see here extending out from NGC 4485 is all that connects them — a trail that spans some 24 000 light-years.
Many of the stars in this connecting trail could never have existed without the galaxies’ fleeting romance. When galaxies interact hydrogen gas is shared between them, triggering intense bursts of star formation. The orange knots of light in this image are examples of such regions, clouded with gas and dust.
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Kathy van Pelt, and won sixth prize in the “basic image searching” category.
Spiral Galaxy NGC 5033 Magnificent island universe NGC 5033 lies some 40 million light-years away in the well-trained northern constellation Canes Venatici. This telescopic portrait reveals striking details of dust lanes winding near the galaxy’s bright core and majestic but relatively faint spiral arms. Speckled with pink star forming regions and massive blue star clusters, the arms span over 100,000 light-years, similar in size to our own spiral Milky Way. A well-studied example of the class of Seyfert active galaxies, NGC 5033 has a core that is very bright and variable. The emission is likely powered by a supermassive black hole. The bright nucleus and rotational center of the galaxy also seem to be slightly offset, suggesting NGC 5033 is the result of an ancient galaxy merger.
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, University of Arizona
Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, spiral galaxy M83 lies a mere twelve million light-years away, near the southeastern tip of the very long constellation Hydra. This deep view of the gorgeous island universe includes observations from Hubble, along with ground based data from the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope units, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Subaru telescope, and Australian Astronomical Observatory photographic data by D. Malin. About 40,000 light-years across, M83 is popularly known as the Southern Pinwheel for its pronounced spiral arms. But the wealth of reddish star forming regions found near the edges of the arms’ thick dust lanes, also suggest another popular moniker for M83, the Thousand-Ruby Galaxy. Arcing near the top of the novel cosmic portrait lies M83’s northern stellar tidal stream, debris from the gravitational disruption of a smaller, merging satellite galaxy. The faint, elusive star stream was found in the mid 1990s by enhancing photographic plates.
The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.
IC 2574: Coddington’s Nebula Dwarf galaxy IC 2574 shows clear evidence of intense star forming activity in its telltale pinkish regions of glowing hydrogen gas. Just as in spiral galaxies, the turbulent star-forming regions in IC 2574 are churned by stellar winds and supernova explosions spewing material into the galaxy’s interstellar medium and triggering further star formation. A mere 12 million light-years distant, IC 2574 is part of the M81 group of galaxies, seen toward the northern constellation Ursa Major. Also known as Coddington’s Nebula, the lovely island universe is about 50,000 light-years across, discovered by American astronomer Edwin Coddington in 1898.
This image of 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula, in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) was taken with the Curtis Schmidt telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile, as part of the Magellanic Cloud Emission Line Survey (MCELS) project. The Tarantula Nebula is a giant star-forming region, where energy from hot, young stars in the region creates dramatic voids and filaments in the surrounding gas. Located 160,000 light-years distant in the southern constellation Dorado, the LMC is considered the closest large galaxy to Earth. Because of the proximity and low foreground absorption of the LMC, it is an ideal laboratory both for studies of individual HII regions, supernova remnants, and superbubbles, and for investigations of global properties using samples of these objects. MCELS is designed to provide uniform datasets in optical emission lines that are necessary to conduct this research. The MCELS observations toward the 30 Doradus region have been used to investigate the physical properties of the HII region, examine the physical conditions of supernova remnants in the field, and study the large-scale structure of the ionized gas. This color image was produced using three separate exposures taken in hydrogen (red), sulfur (green), and oxygen (blue) filters. Caption: NOAO. Please read Conditions of Use before downloading. S. POINTS, C. SMITH, R. LEITON, C. AGUILERA AND NOAO/AURA/NSF
I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly - or ever - gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe.
The Carina–Sagittarius Arm (also known as Sagittarius Arm or Sagittarius–Carina Arm, labeled -I) is generally thought to be a minor spiral arm of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
Each spiral arm is a long, diffuse curving streamer of stars that radiates out from the galactic center. These gigantic structures are often composed of billions of stars and thousands of gas clouds. [**]
Space Engine is a program that allows you to explore the cosmos at your leisure, from faraway galaxies to nearby worlds. Space Engine:
Is free to download and play.
Recreates a cubic 10x10x10 gigaparsec area of the known universe that’s open to exploration from corner to corner.
Contains a large catalogue of actual astronomical objects, including galaxies, stars, planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and black holes, with more intended to be added in the future.
Procedurally generates galaxies, stars, planets, moons, and other objects not known to us according to reasonable probabilities. When exploring, you never quite know what you’re going to find.
Includes 10,000 catalogued galaxies, possibly billions more procedural galaxies, many trillions of stars, and even more planets and moons to explore. You can spend your entire lifetime looking at every single star system and never even make it to the next galaxy.
Gives you the ability to travel through space at any speed from 1 meter per second to 1 gigaparsec per second, allowing you to swing across superclusters, leap through galaxies, warp between stars, hop between planets, and glide over moons.
Presents the cosmos with stunning graphics and detail, from the gravitational lensing of black holes and neutron stars to the shadows of rings across planetary atmospheres.
Space Engine is also a work in progress and is still in the process of being updated. It also requires a powerful PC to run well and is prone to crashes which may be mostly fixed by using the “interleaved” LoaderMode and restarting the program often.
All things considered, Space Engine is a wonderful piece of software and will no doubt lead to many hours lost in space.